In conjunction with the Hospital Management Asia Conference 2023, leading medtech innovator Siemens Healthineers today hosted a panel discussion in which local healthcare experts and leaders expressed optimism that cancer could be considered a manageable, chronic disease with much higher survival rates in 25 years.
While cancer cases in Malaysia are projected to double by 2040, cancer care has advanced in recent years, with technological innovations in diagnostic imaging that enable earlier detection, precise diagnosis, customized radiation therapy, targeted chemotherapies rooted in knowledge about the human genome, groundbreaking immunotherapies, and the development of comprehensive cancer care programs.
Creating a world without fear of cancer will require important changes in the way healthcare is organized and oncology is practiced. There is a need for healthcare providers to go “broad” around population health and patient management and to go “deep” with hyper-specialization and cutting-edge technologies that increase complexity exponentially. Navigating these changes will only be possible through multi-disciplinary cooperation, strategic partnerships, and the collaborative use of integrated, connected care pathways that span the entire cancer detection and treatment journey.
Moving from fragmented care to integrated care
Fabrice Leguet, Managing Director of Siemens Healthcare Southeast Asia, believes the next step in comprehensive cancer care will be summoning the will and collective effort to move beyond today’s fragmented cancer care landscape towards a more integrated approach.
“Advancements in healthcare have allowed us to take big strides and redefine what is possible when it comes to diagnosing and treating a disease as complicated as cancer. However, we recognize that alleviating the fears of cancer patients requires a collective effort from everyone in the system. Our goal is to make detection, diagnosis, and treatment more accessible, effective, and personalized to the needs of patients in Southeast Asia,” he shared.
Titled ‘Creating a World Without Fear of Cancer: A Critical Dialogue’, the panel featured experts from various health industry sectors. Fabrice was joined by Dr. Kelvin Yii, Special Advisor to the Health Minister; Serena Yong, CEO of Regency Specialist Hospital; Prof. Ricky Sharma, Global Head of Clinical Affairs at Varian; and patient advocate Ranjit Kaur, former President and current board member of Reach to Recovery International (RRI).
Policy and Collaboration: Charting a Unified Course
Addressing the diverse range of challenges, including the rising cost of high-tech care modalities, international staff shortages, and limited funding for healthcare services, Serena Yong, CEO of Regency Specialist Hospital, highlighted the importance of industry partnerships in facilitating knowledge sharing and potential breakthroughs in oncology. “By integrating insights from different fields, we can achieve more diverse and effective outcomes.”
These sentiments were echoed by Dr. Kelvin Yii, special advisor to the Health Minister. “The National Strategic Plan for Cancer Control aims to make cancer prevention, management, and control accessible and affordable through partnerships with stakeholders. The goal is to reduce the cancer burden, promote understanding of cancer, encourage prevention, and encourage early diagnosis to alleviate patient fears.”
Technology & Innovation: The New Frontier
The global healthcare sector has seen a paradigm shift with the advent of AI, data analytics, and breakthrough technologies. Early detection, once a challenge, now gets a boost with intelligent cancer care systems.
Serena shared, “Our current technological trajectory is encouraging. We are on the cusp of an era where technology doesn’t just detect but predicts.”
“The strategic partnership between Regency Specialist Hospital and Siemens reaffirms our commitment to elevating patient care. With patient well-being at the heart of our mission, this partnership expedites the integration of connected health solutions, ensuring swifter
access to care. Moreover, it facilitates the expansion of teleconsultation services and the implementation of predictive analytics on a broader scale, ultimately contributing significantly to our patients’ journey toward improved health outcomes.”
Reinforcing Siemens Healthineers’ commitment, Fabrice said, “By partnering with healthcare providers, we accelerate the transfer of knowledge in oncology across clinical, technical, and managerial fields and fast-track the adoption of integrated innovative technologies across the continuum of cancer care. While we leverage our access to global best practices and the latest technological innovations, we take a “fit for purpose” approach where solutions are adapted to the local context in close collaboration with our partners in the region. This is how we are able to set up Oncology Centers of Excellence with innovative care delivery models that enable our partners to leverage their healthcare network and bring these capabilities closer to their patients. At Siemens Healthineers, our aim is to democratize access to these groundbreaking innovations and clinical knowledge with a clear goal of making advanced cancer care accessible to all.”
Patient Advocacy: The Cornerstone of Comprehensive Care
Ranjit Kaur emphasized the emotional facet of cancer: “The journey can be solitary. It underscores the imperative for community support and a holistic approach that intertwines medical treatment with emotional well-being. In a world where technology drives improvement in various aspects of our lives, we must also prioritize empathy, timely care access, and comprehensive support systems for patients, not only in Malaysia but worldwide. Each patient journey is often daunting and worrisome, but by paying greater attention to these details, we can help individuals look beyond their diagnosis and find confidence in their ability to overcome cancer.”
Prof. Ricky Sharma, Global Head of Clinical Affairs at Varian, shares, “Cancer is a disease that can evolve and mutate to evade treatments. The importance of patient data cannot be understated, as well as patient experiences of treatment from country to country. We need all of this information to deliver a personalized patient experience, and it has to be from a holistic point of view. We need to be asking important questions from the patients‘ perspective: Is treatment accessible? Are patients being treated with the respect they deserve? How and where are clinical decisions being made and the treatments being administered? We need to aim for a frictionless, patient-centric experience so we can, as communities, move further towards our vision of a world without fear of cancer.”
Towards a Cancer-Free World
With a coordinated effort between technology, policy, and caregiving, the dream of a cancer-free 2047 doesn’t seem distant. The collective voice of the panel resonated with optimism and determination.
Fabrice encapsulated the spirit, saying, “Every strategic partnership, every technological innovation, and every collaboration with policymakers will bring us one step closer to creating a world without fear of cancer.”